ABUL RIZVI: Government reveals details of its net overseas migration (NOM) forecast

The Government has at last revealed some details of its 2019 Budget forecast for a record breaking level of sustained NOM. The key is a significant increase in the net contribution from temporary visa holders. This would mean the current stock of around 2 million temporary entrants in our population must rise even more rapidly. Are we on the way to transitioning from a migrant settler nation to a guest worker society? But if there is a shortfall in forecast NOM, what would be the implications for the Prime Minister’s job creation pledge and for its ten year tax plan? Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

CAVAN HOGUE.  Canada, Australia and the USA

Canada tries to differentiate itself from the USA but because of its proximity and similarities this is not easy. Australia has the opposite problem: we try to find similarities. Canada’s geography makes it easier for it to defy requests to get involved in US wars but Australia has the opposite problem. We have to shout to be heard which is why we get involved in wars we should keep out of and votes we should change. But the world is changing and we have not kept up with the changes. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Defence/Security, International Affairs | 3 Comments

SPENCER ZIFCAK. Journalists, media freedom and the law.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on journalists from News Corporation and the ABC have caused very considerable community consternation. The fact that these raids occurred in the immediate aftermath of the recent election and within a day of each other served only to animate public concern. These events have prompted a re-appraisal of the state of media freedom in Australia. The AFP has defended its actions, journalists have been up in arms, media’s management has complained of intimidation, and the government has denied any responsibility. In their own way, each has responded understandably. The basic problem does not lie primarily with their actions. Instead, it is the law that is problematic.  Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics | 3 Comments

FINTAN O’TOOLE. Brexit Britain is wallowing in dangerous talk of national humiliation (The Guardian 15.6.2019)

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Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

DUNCAN GRAHAM Focusing on Washington, glancing at Jakarta

The 17 April Indonesian elections and fallout could have been big news in Australia.  According to some experts they should have been.

Instead media consumers Down Under got more of US President Donald Trump’s distant domestic political shenanigans than they did of the blood and fire crises facing their neighbor nation and its re-elected President Joko Widodo.

The result from the world’s third largest democracy staging the world’s biggest one-day election will impact many countries, but most particularly the adjacent southern continent.
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Posted in International Affairs, Media | 5 Comments

CAITLIN JOHNSTONE. US Foreign Policy Is A War On Disobedience (Medium, 7 July 2019)

In an excellent new essay titled “We’re Not the Good Guys — Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action?”, Tom Engelhardt criticizes the way western media outlets consistently describe the behavior of disobedient nations like Iran as “aggressions”, but never use that label for the (generally antecedent and far more egregious) aggressions of the United States. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

TONY DOHERTY. Dancing to my Death.

With the Love called Cancer Continue reading

Posted in Tributes | 2 Comments

SUE WAREHAM. Nuclear weapons must be rejected

Professor Hugh White’s recent suggestion that Australia might need to consider nuclear weapons is highly provocative and dangerous. He is helping to legitimise these instruments of terror, and gives credence to the deeply flawed notion of nuclear “deterrence”. Australia must instead support global efforts for nuclear weapons elimination, especially the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 10 Comments

GREG BARNS AND TONY NAGY: The Troubling Irony: The UK Government Conference on Media Freedom and Julian Assange


On Wednesday and Thursday this week The UK and Canadian Governments are hosting a conference called Defend Media Freedom. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne is participating. Yet only a few miles away from the London conference venue Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks and journalist, languishes in Belmarsh Prison as he awaits a request by the United States to extradite him for revealing the war crimes of the United States and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

KIM WINGEREI. Facebook Libra Pitching for World Domination

Facebook’s Libra launch has the potential to propel Facebook into a major player in consumer payments and credit services and may turn out to be one of the most profound change to world’s financial systems since the abolishment of the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971.

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KERRY BROWN. Whither ‘one country, two systems’? (East Asia Forum)

If reportedly a quarter of the population of the country or city where you live go out on the streets to demonstrate, there is a serious problem. We can quibble about whether it was indeed two million that demonstrated in Hong Kong on Sunday 16 June, or a half of that or less. But for once the eyes could not lie: the whole of the central area was crammed with people, many of whom had already been demonstrating only a few days before. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 2 Comments

JOANNE WALLIS. Australia’s one step forward, two steps back in the Pacific (East Asia Forum)

In 2016, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull expressed Australia’s commitment to a ‘step-change’ in its engagement with the Pacific Islands. The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper sketched the skeleton of this ‘step-up’ but it wasn’t until 2018 that those bones were fleshed out. While Australia is set to implement several meaningful labour mobility, security and diplomatic initiatives, simultaneously counterproductive domestically driven policies could undermine the ability of those programs to improve engagement with Pacific Island states. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

Thai police seize 51 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers (UCANEWS Reporter, Bangkok, 8 July 2019)

Thai authorities in Bangkok have arrested 51 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in an incident that has reignited fears among the city’s Christian refugees of another immigration crackdown on illegal immigrants.

According to eyewitnesses, immigration authorities arriving in two police vans pulled up outside a low-rent apartment building in Bearing Soi 7 in eastern Bangkok where several Pakistani Christian families had been hiding out after having overstayed their tourist visas to Thailand. Continue reading

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KIM WINGEREI The Religion of Sports

Israel Folau is a sad case of a sports star failing to understand his own religion, his role and his contractual obligations all at once.

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Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. Here we go again- attacking unions and ‘red tape’.

With no policy agenda and with the economy sagging, the Morrison government(‘We are the good economic managers’) intends to take us back to what Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey offered us six years ago, an attack on the trade unions again and less red tape. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 5 Comments

PETER MANNING. How ‘access journalism’ is threatening investigative journalism.

Mainstream journalists give us a never ending series of “exclusives’. They are usually from a source that wants easy publicity, usually a Minister. In the process the journalist becomes a ‘victim’ of the source.The inference is that if you don’t give this story a good run you won’t get any more leaks. Just forget about investigating the real issues that might be at stake in this particular field or any other. See below an article that Peter Manning wrote on this subject in December last year.(John Menadue) Continue reading

Posted in Media | 2 Comments

JOHN QUIGGIN. The Murray-Darling Basin scandal: economists have seen it coming for decades (The Conversation, 9 July, 2019)

Nations behave wisely, Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban observed five decades ago, “once they have exhausted all other alternatives”.

One can only hope that proves the case with water policy in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, the nation’s largest river system and agricultural heartland. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

NOEL TURNBULL. Where did it all start?

“From whence and whereof cometh yon Trump? From some distant time or world?” Well that’s how it might be put in cod Elizabethan dialogue.

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LEONID PETROV.  “Love the North Korean Style: Alek Sigley’s Misfortune is a Coded Message”

Alek Sigley was expelled from North Korea for using the Internet

Last weekend the world was baffled by the statement of the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) which explained why Alek Sigley, the Australian student who had studied at the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, was detained, investigated and expelled. Nobody, including seasoned North Korea watchers, could make sense of this brief but eloquent statement that became viral among Western media even before it appeared on the KCNA official site. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 1 Comment

GEOFF RABY and IRVIN STUDIN. Can Australia think for itself?

Some years ago, in his usually provocative way, Kishore Mahbubhani published a polemic, Can Asians Think? It was his push back against the uni-polar moment and the perceived arrogance of the Washington Consensus. Asia was capable of working out its own policies for its own circumstances. There was no one size fits all. In this essay, Irvin Studin, Editor-in-Chief of Global Brief, turns this around to declare Canada Must Think For Itself.   Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

CHRIS MCDONNEL. A cry from the depths

It is often said that the darkest night comes in the hour before dawn. Recently the Church has passed, and is still passing through, a night time experience. We await the dawn hour.

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Posted in Religion and Faith | Leave a comment

CAI FANG. A trade war will only hasten China’s structural reforms (East Asia Forum)

On 22 March 2018, the United States, invoking Section 301 of the Trade Act, increased tariffs on imported goods from China. Since then, the trade war has severely harmed both the Chinese and US economies. Yet despite 11 rounds of high-level negotiations between the two sides, the Trump administration has continued to escalate the trade conflict. The result has been an increase in tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on 10 May 2019. China certainly did not want a trade war, it was launched unilaterally by the United States. But China was prepared for its escalation. Continue reading

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GEETA PANDEY. Indian MP Mahua Moitra’s ‘rising fascism’ speech wins plaudits (BBC News)

A spirited turn at the mic by a first-time female MP in India’s parliament, in which she listed the “signs of early fascism”, has been hailed as the “speech of the year” on social media. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

MUNGO MACCALLUM.  Morrison climbs aboard Plan A

Last week Anthony Albanese passed his first test – at least the one the magisterial examiners of The Australian devised for him. He had retreated, gloated the paper – caved, rolled over to the majesty of the ScoMo mandate.

By agreeing to pass the enormity of the coalition tax package, he had acknowledged the verdict of hard-working Australians. and it follows, as dogs return to their vomit, that any other bright ideas Scott Morrison can come up with must be obeyed with similar capitulation. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

JACK WATERFORD. Not quite Custer’s last stand, yet

Australia must have an independent defence policy as American power in Asia and the Pacific wanes. But there’s no reason to think us friendless.

Hugh White is travelling the nation’s highways and byways trying to scare Australians out of their complacency about the nation’s security  — not least by raising again the prospect of Australia’s being naked and abandoned, particularly by our once great and once powerful friend, our bones being picked over by China, or perhaps Indonesia. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 13 Comments

FRANK BRENNAN. Australia and the refugees who come by boat

We have now all endured our third election in a row when boat turnbacks and the punitive treatment of refugees and asylum seekers featured.  The overwhelming majority of our politicians and the overwhelming majority of voters are agreed that the boats from Indonesia carrying asylum seekers transiting Indonesia should be stopped, and the refugees and asylum seekers who have been languishing on Nauru and Manus Island should be treated decently and humanely. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 6 Comments

TOM ENGLELHARDT. We’re Not the Good Guys  Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action? (TomDispatch.com 2.7.2019)

Headlined “U.S. Seeks Other Ways to Stop Iran Shy of War,” the article was tucked away on page A9 of a recent New York Times. Still, it caught my attention. Here’s the first paragraph:

“American intelligence and military officers are working on additional clandestine plans to counter Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, pushed by the White House to develop new options that could help deter Tehran without escalating tensions into a full-out conventional war, according to current and former officials.”

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Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM.  Morrison cranks out surplus fetish

Scott Morrison has a new obsession – the budget surplus.

In spite of his assurances to the contrary, this has not actually been delivered, and there are growing doubts that it will be – the storm clouds, the head winds of which the prime minister and his treasurer confusingly warn us, could well blow it away. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 11 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. Can we trust Scott Morrison?


Scott Morrison is on record as saying that no programs or services will be cut to pay for the tax cuts. The evidence, however, suggests that real government outlays will decline on a per capita basis, which would seem to mean that services will contract. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

ALLAN PATIENCE and GARRY WOODARD. Morrison as a middle power statesman?


In attempting to predict how Scott Morrison will develop as a foreign policy Prime Minister, the obstacles in his way should first be noted. While his potential authority within the party room is considerable, he lacks the foreign policy experience of previous Prime Ministers such as Menzies, Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs, Politics | 5 Comments